by klparry

Yeah! You’ve had your manuscript professionally edited or at the least, edited by someone that possess the technical skills required. You’ve made the necessary changes and you’re ready to self-publish or begin querying agents – but wait! Before you do that, you need some unbiased critiques.

Why the critiques?

Because, you need to determine if what you’ve written is something that others are going to want to read.

I never believe someone who says they write only for themselves. The whole point in telling, showing, writing a story is to share that idea with others – to document something so it won’t be forgotten – to impart a lesson – to leave a small piece of one’s self behind once the mortal coil has been shed. Deny it all you like. Those who have a passion for writing want others to read what they’ve written. And, if you want others to read it, you’ve got to be certain your story is fashioned to engage them.

Because my stories are geared towards teen and young adult readers, I take two approaches. The first is to find young readers. I prefer them to be unknown to me to prevent any bias. It is also important that they read in the genre of the work being critiqued. I include with the manuscript a brief questionnaire. This enables me to determine what problems might exist.

I didn’t want it to seem like homework so I told them their answers could be brief. Surprisingly I received some very detailed responses.

Here is that Questionnaire.

1. Did you find the topic interesting and/or timely?

2. Did the story engage you enough to make you want to turn the page?

3. Were there moments in the story that seemed to lag, disinterest, or bore you?

4. Were there moments in the story that seemed awkward, out of place or incomprehensible?

5. Were there moments that you just didn’t like?

6. Were there certain parts that you really liked?

7. Did any part of the story give rise to your emotions?

8. What is your overall opinion?

The second thing I did was to post to a critique site 

This is where the real critical stuff happens. And, as the web site suggest, get seven or eight critiques compiled. After that you can determine the common complaint and make any changes to you manuscript. Sometimes a bad critique is just a matter of personal preference.

Above all, do not let yourself get discouraged. It’s not easy to take constructive criticism but it is a fantastic tool that you shouldn’t be afraid to make use of.

Until next time, write on!

~ K. L. Parry

Author of The Pirate’s Daughter and a King’s Ransom – a novel

Girl in the Mermaid Tail – a novelette